Water Treatment

REVIEW OF COLIPHAGES AS POSSIBLE INDICATORS OF FECAL CONTAMINATION FOR AMBIENT WATER QUALITY

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Description: 

The United States (U.S.) Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommended the use of the fecal indicator bacteria (FIB) Escherichia coli (E. coli) and enterococci to determine the level of fecal contamination present in environmental waters and to establish the 2012 Recreational Water Quality Criteria (RWQC), which protect the designated use of primary contact recreation (U.S. EPA, 2012). The purpose of this review is to summarize the scientific literature on coliphage properties to assess their suitability as indicators of fecal contamination in ambient water. This review covers background information on coliphage characteristics and enumeration methods (Section 2); their relationship with human health risks in epidemiological studies (Section 3); their occurrence and associations with pathogens in the environment (Section 4); and the fate and transport of coliphages in the environment (Section 5) and during wastewater treatment (Section 6). Appendix A describes the literature search strategy and summarizes the results of literature search. At this time, EPA is considering the use of F-specific and somatic coliphages, as possible viral indicators of fecal contamination in ambient water. Coliphages are a subset of bacteriophages that infect E. coli. Other types of bacteriophages [i.e., those that infect Enterococcus and various Bacteroides species (spp.)] have also been evaluated for their use as indicators of fecal contamination. While some information on other types of bacteriophages is presented, this review primarily focuses on coliphages because there is more literature available on their occurrence, fate, and epidemiological relationships. Additionally, two standardized enumeration methods published by EPA are available for both coliphages. 

 

Published by: EPA Office of Water Office of Science and Technology Health and Ecological Criteria Division April 17, 2015. 

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